ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women Ascetics in Hindu Society

Outside the Norms

A Hindu monastic order has the structure of a genealogical tree. This extremely loose structure allows a considerable freedom to spiritual masters and it explains to some extent how female ascetics have finally found their way into most of the monastic orders, even those traditionally closed to them. But to be admitted into a lineage does not allow one to transmit its religious tradition, that is to initiate and become a guru. It is only in some very rare cases that there is an evidence of self-sustained series of women ascetics. More often, female ascetics have to survive within the framework of systems that are essentially male-oriented and have been designed and refined by males for other males.

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